With the importance of mental health awareness at the forefront of myriad conversations, as the world continues to experience the impacts of the pandemic, Workman Arts has announced the full line-up for their 30th-anniversary edition of the Rendezvous With Madness Festival – the largest and longest-running arts festival in the world dedicated to the intersection of mental health and artistic expression.

The 2022 festival runs from October 27 – November 6, 2022 and presents 13 feature films and two short programs – a total of 30 films from 15 countries – in a hybrid format of virtual and in-person screenings. In addition to this year’s robust film program, the festival includes its annual visual art exhibit returning to a festival long in gallery format – KIND RENDERINGS, that also features five live performance pieces.

Programming will be offered this year at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, the CAMH Auditorium, Workman Arts’ recent home at 651 Dufferin, the Workman Arts Gallery at Artscape Youngplace, and at Comedy Bar. As always, films are complemented by thought-provoking post-screening Q&As and curated panel discussions.

The overarching theme for the festival this year is “More than rebellion,” a statement that embodies the festival’s efforts to normalize informed public discourse around mental health, addiction, recovery, and wellness.  More than rebellion means tearing down a broken system in favour of a generational change.  This makes every artist featured at RWM 2022 a rebel; they’ve looked at the world and deemed it lacking, so they’ve used their art to hold society to a higher ideal.

In this benchmark anniversary year, Rendezvous With Madness 2022 gets underway on October 27th at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema with the Canadian Premiere of the fearsome candid documentary, HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND by Marusya Syroechkovskaya. This many-years-in-the-making scrapbook diary meets TikTok documentary follows the young director’s relationship with Kimi, someone whom she shared time with in Moscow’s music scene, and in her words, the “bad trip” of Russia’s 21st century. The couple’s view of their homeland is laid out early in the film and is deeply provocative, especially during this time of war.

Documentaries dominate the film line-up, spotlighting deeply personal stories of perseverance through trauma, mental illness, addiction, disability, and more. Highlights include Reid Davenport’s I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE, an unflinching exploration of the effects of “othering” on the disabled; Flore Vasseur’s BIGGER THAN US follows 18-year-old Indonesian activist Melati Wijsen alongside other young activists fighting for free speech, food security and equal rights worldwide; LES PRIÈRES DE DELPHINE byRosine Mbakam is a candid story of courage and strength in the face of racism, misogyny and poverty;EAT YOUR CATFISH by Adam Isenberg, Noah Amir Arjomand and Senem Tüzen is a chronicle of living with ALS and a family at its breaking point; and  MI VACIO Y YO (My Emptiness and I) from Spanish filmmaker Adrian Silvestre follows a young trans woman from France to Barcelona as she struggles to define a trans identity of her own while facing  social pressure from inside and outside the trans community.

This year’s artist spotlight highlights the work of Liz Roberts, and her powerful first-person documentary MIDWASTE, that tells the story of her relationship with heroin over several decades. Her connection to drug subculture is inextricable from her relationship to the camera; the work opens with her first-ever, becoming more high resolution as Roberts becomes more adept with profound reflection alongside different cameras and techniques. Additionally, the artist spotlight will include a virtual workshop run by Roberts on the process of creating autobiographical films.

The Rendezvous With Madness 2022 film line-up includes two short film programs:  IF YOU ASK ME returns for its sixth year, showcasing emerging young filmmakers with mental health and/or addiction experiences from across the country, and UPON, REFLECTION, an anthology of short films by Workman Arts members contemplating the transformative vastness of storytelling.

The festival closes this year with a screening of local artist Luke Galati’s debut feature-length documentary WHEN WE REACH OUT: WHO WILL RESPOND?. Born out of a tense interaction he had with police during a bipolar episode, Galati follows his own mental health journey and spotlights the work of the Toronto Community Crisis Service, a pilot service responding to mental health related calls, as an alternative to police service response.

Rendezvous With Madness 2022 returns to an in-person format for their annual visual arts exhibition, this year entitled KIND RENDERINGS. The exhibit, which brings together six artists from across Canada whose work challenges conventional discourse surrounding mental health and wellness, will be on view at the Workman Arts gallery, Artscape Youngplace from October 27 to November 6. 

The work in KIND RENDERINGS offers brave and bold windows into the artist’s personal mental health through a myriad of mediums. Inspired by the helplessness of being stuck on a hamster wheel Toronto artists Boozie articulate their mental health through a series of drawings. OCAD graduate Jenny Chen explores the healing of past trauma and depression through her evocative animation Multitude of Fish – Ascension Tale. Jessica Field celebrates the imagination’s power to heal the body through a collection of poetry and A.I. rendered drawings that explore the experience of living with inexplicable illness and pain, love, and loss. Stéphane Alexis’ photo-based project Chains & Crowns is inspired and dedicated to the artist’s mother, depicting the history, politics, science, and psychology behind Black hairstyles. Through Twinkle Banerjee’s relationship with her grandmother, this evocative work explores the partition of India and subsequent generational trauma. The body of work Cinnamon sees artist Wen Tong explore everyday experiences in a suburban setting while creating fantastical interventions.

Rounding out the festival this year is a quartet of live performance works and a comedy showcase.  Kicking off the live performance programming is THE FLIN FLON COWBOY from award-winning film and theatre actor Ken Harrower(Boys In Chairs, SummerWorks 2017 Jon Kaplan Spotlight Award-winner). On stage October 29-November 3 at the CAMH Auditorium, THE FLIN FLON COWBOY is a new musical created and performed by Harrower, that tells his life story beginning in Flin Flon, Manitoba, and culminating in his adventures in Toronto as a Queer, Disabled artist.  

At Comedy Bar on October 30, the comedy and public speaking school MalPensado presents a Comedy Showcase of work by recent graduates. On November 2, the festival presents a duet of short pieces, A VOICE THROUGH THE MELT by Anda Zeng and Natalie Wee, and THE SUICIDE KEY from Laura Piccinin.  November 4, Newfoundland songwriter, flutologist, and inspirational speaker Rozalind MacPhail performs in DON’T LET ME FALL TOO FAR, a live music and cinema event that tells a timeless story of self-discovery.

Tickets for Rendezvous With Madness events will be available for online booking beginning October 7th at 10:00am EST. All tickets are pay-what-you-wish. Please note that this year there are limited walk-up sales due to COVID-19 and advance online ticket booking is recommended.

Download the complete RENDEZVOUS WITH MADNESS 2022 FESTIVAL LINE-UP listings HERE.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.